For a period in Hollywood history, no name loomed larger than Cecil B. DeMille. The tireless filmmaker would write, produce, and direct dozens of films across every genre, and even successfully jumped from the silent into the sound era. But in 1915, DeMille was just getting his start. Not that he was taking things slowly: The Captive, a sweeping romantic tragedy set in the Balkans, was already DeMille’s 16th film just a year after directing his first feature. A different era, indeed.
But apparently, rushing films to completion at that speed came loaded with a lot of risks. To get the realism he wanted during a scene in which soldiers storm a building, he insisted the soldiers’ guns be loaded with real bullets. Tragically, during the shot, one of the guns went off and killed an extra, a 30-year-old by the name of Charles Chandler. Perhaps modern Hollywood productions are slower because of the sea of regulations they have to navigate, but incidents like this prove why those regulations are there, and why they matter.
But this was, indeed, another era, and DeMille finished his film, released it, and rolled right onto the next one. His career went on for decades. Poor Charles Chandler’s career, needless to say, did not.